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Can “bad” stressors spark “good” behaviors in frontline employees? Incorporating motivation and emotion

Jiaxin (Sylvia) Wang (Department of Marketing, School of Management, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin, China and College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China)
Xiaoxiao Fu (Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Youcheng Wang (Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Publication date: 26 November 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the antecedents of frontline employees’ boundary-spanning behaviors in the hospitality industry. Anchored in transactional stress theory, affective events theory and motivation theories, a conceptual model was built to explore the impacts of hindrance stressors on boundary-spanning behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from frontline employees in the hospitality industry in the USA. Confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling were used.

Findings

The findings revealed that despite hindrance stressors’ negative indirect impact on frontline employees’ boundary-spanning behaviors, intrinsic motivation worked effectively to reduce hindrance stress and influence subsequent emotions leading to boundary-spanning behaviors.

Practical implications

This study provides substantial and detailed strategies for hospitality practitioners who are pressed to alleviate the hindrance stressors from which frontline employees frequently suffer, foster employees’ positive emotions and ease negative emotions while promoting boundary-spanning behaviors. Cultivation of employees’ intrinsic motivation and emotional management is encouraged, as is effective organizational structure and management intervention. All of these are deemed helpful in buffering employees’ work-related stress while motivating them to go above and beyond their nominal duties.

Originality/value

Very few studies have examined how “bad” hindrance stressors affect boundary-spanning behaviors. Rather than suggesting that hindrance stressors are relevant only to counterproductive behaviors, this study extends both the stress and boundary-spanning literature by uncovering the impact of hindrance stressors on frontline employees’ boundary-spanning behaviors while accounting for the roles of workers’ motivation and emotion.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: The author(s) acknowledge the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The first author acknowledges the financial support of the Research and Visiting Abroad Project for Young Scholars of Tianjin Normal University 2015-2020, China; the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71472136); and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71502128), respectively. This research was also supported by the Dean’s Research Scholars Program (2018-2019) of Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida.

Citation

Wang, J.(S)., Fu, X. and Wang, Y. (2020), "Can “bad” stressors spark “good” behaviors in frontline employees? Incorporating motivation and emotion", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 101-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-06-2020-0519

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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